Our family loves Disney. We really love it. So much that after one trip there as a family we decided to invest in the Disney Vacation Club. We knew that we had years upon years of vacations ahead of us Disney… Maddux loved it… and we loved watching the magic in his eyes and knew that when we added onto our family this would continue to be a great vacation for us. For us…. This trip is easy. It works well for us. We aren’t the type of people who enjoy vacations where you lay on the beach and do nothing all day (well once in a while we like those) …. We need something that keeps us moving… and one day when our kids are grown we will be thankful we had these years at Disney with them…. And hopefully we will be able to share these same memories with grandchildren down the road.
I understand this investment might not make sense for everyone. And I get that there are people out there that do not find this trip enjoyable or relaxing… they find it stressful and chaotic. So it’s all a matter of opinion.
I think for us because we know we will be back we get the chance to take our time and not cram everything into this visit… because if we don’t get to it this time… we will just go next time mentality.
So with that being said.
I should also mention we also love the Disney Dining Plan. Now… honestly I love this because if I don’t do it… I am cheap. I pay too much attention to how much the food is costing… and I end up taking the cheap way out. But with the dining plan … its included and then I order what I want without a thought on how much it costs.. they scan my wristband and it’s easy.
So I thought I would share with you the restaurants we have been to and my recommendations.
In no particular order…
1. Sci Fi Dine In Theater (Located in Hollywood Studios)
We went here for dinner on our 2nd visit with maddux. This is one of our favorites. I would go there every time we visit Disney if it were up to me. The food is amazing. My husband orders the NY Strip every single time. I personally love their veggie burger. The milkshakes are … amazing. This restaurant is a great place to take kids. I think with the craziness of the day it gives them sometime to just sit and chill out for a bit. You watch clips of the old silly horror movies… and for us it seems to re-charge Maddux when we leave. The only downside is… if you are a party of three since you sit in the car one person is stuck sitting by themselves. It’s a weird set up for an odd number of people.
2. Sci Fi Dine in Theater Star Wars Weekends – Character Dining (located in HollyWood Studios)
Same restaurant. Completely different experience. Still amazing. This was by far my favorite character dining we have done at Disney. Before you go into eat you get a photo-op with Bobba Fett and Darth Vader! One of the best parts was – it’s not a buffet but because it costs so much you can technically order several breakfast dishes. Some servers let you know this. Some do not. However, my family does a lot of research before we get in so we knew this on our own. We each tried 2 breakfasts and I am not sure if i could tell you my favorite. I believe overall the Ackbar Surprise was a huge hit among everyone in our party. Stormtroopers, Jawas, and Greeto walk around to each table several times. The Jawa’s are interested in trading with the kids… Stormtroopers act silly and dance and make jokes… all in all this was my favorite dining experience at Disney so far. If you are there Star Wars Weekend I would highly recommend you make a reservation for this.
3. Tusker House – Character Dining – (located in Animal Kingdom)
Tusker house is another one of my favorites. This is a Buffet Style Dining. However, it is in Africa so there are several dishes that are unique. I love it. My family loves it. But I have read a lot of people who have had issues with it. If you are a meat and potatoes type of person… where you do not like to try new types of food. I wouldn’t recommend this one. We have gone to this one twice for lunch and in our next visit we have reservations for breakfast.
4. Chef Mickeys – Character Dining – (Located at the Contemporary Resort)
Chef Mickey’s is another Buffet Style Character Dining experience. This one was good. Just… nothing too special about it. The food we felt was very much just common to your traditional buffets you would find. We enjoyed the character dining experience with Maddux and the food all tasted good – no complaint there. I just felt like a few other restaurants that offer characters had a better menu.
5. The Crystal Palace – Character Dining – (Located at Magic Kingdom)
Winnie the Pooh Dining experience. This is another Buffet Style Character Dining experience. I would almost go as far to say the food was just… Meh. Not great. Not terrible. Not even sure if I thought it was “good” This one is convenient thought its right off Main Street in the Magic Kingdon. And any character dining experience that saves you from waiting in lines for an hour is a huge benefit. We just weren’t too keen on the menu.
6. San Angel Inn Restaurante – (Located in Epcot)
This one personally one of my favorites as far as food went. I had the red snapper and it was incredible. Margaritas were great. atmosphere was great. If you are looking for a good place for some good Adult food and margaritas – a place to escape some of the “kid aspects” of Disney this was a great choice. It works well for kids too because there is a giant volcano scene setting that grabs their attention.
7. Coral Reef Restaurant – (located in Epcot)
I will sadly say this was the one restaurant I have honestly had a bad experience with. However, when I read reviews online this is one of the top rated restaurants. The food was amazing. (especially if you are looking for seafood) Unfortunately we had a really bad experience with a new server. Who lost our ticket, disappeared for 45 minutes, and then we missed our Christmas show that we had tickets for. It was frustrating in that moment. However, Disney is awesome and completely refunded us. I can’t give you too much on this other than I remember it being a pretty rough experience. I think this is one I would like to give another chance sometime soon.
8. Mama Melrose – (located in Hollywood Studios)
We LOVED this one. Great Italian Food. Great Atmosphere. Maddux loved it at age 3. The servers were great. It was a very traditional menu from what I remember. But still… the food was great!
9. Grand Floridian Cafe – (located in Grand Floridian Resort)
We went here on Thanksgiving Day to get a Traditional Thanksgiving meal. The food was good. However, the atmosphere was a little boring for kids… It is not somewhere I would go back to just based on it didn’t come across as very family friendly.
10. Whispering Canyon – (located at the Wilderness Lodge)
WE LOVED THIS ONE! This was by far one of our most favorite restaurants and I will go back here again and again just for the atmosphere. They had the adults cracking up… the kids cracking up. it was fantastic. If you love sarcasm, this is definitely a place you want to hit up. Oh yeah… and the food was good. I just cannot tell you enough great things about the atmosphere of this place.
11. Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue – (located at Disney’s For Wilderness)
At first… I was a little iffy on this show. To me this started out a little slow… but by the end of it… we all loved the show that was put on! It was hilarious and very entertaining. Maddux was up dancing around and clapping his hands and completely into it (even though he probably missed 70% of the jokes) It was a great show for kids and adults. The food was good. It was just family style friend chicken, ribs, cole slaw, beans, and mashed potatoes. The one added bonus here… the beer/wine is included under the dining plan :)
12. ‘Ohana – (located at Disney Polynesian Resort)
This was a huge disappointment. I know people that have gone and loved this place so I was really excited. From my understanding they have stopped doing a lot of the things I heard so many good things about and I am not quite sure why. You received a pretty simple breakfast… eggs, potatoes, bacon, sausage – served family style. So the food was nothing great. They did have some specialty orange juice that was pretty good. But the food was not worth the money. Unless your kid is Obsessed with Lilo and Stitch… I would recommend skipping this one. It is not one I ever plan on going back to.
13. Boma – (located at Animal Kingdom Lodge)
We went here for a breakfast buffet. And the food was great. They had so many options to choose from. Our family almost always eats breakfast and this was a great place to go to. I don’t know if I would pick this one to use dining credit on. I thought the price was pretty low. However, I would go back and pay cash next time we stay at Animal Kingdom. I think this is a great place to stop in and get breakfast especially if you are staying at the resort.
Now we just decided to book an impromptu trip to Disney this December for a long weekend.. So we booked the following
- Tusker house (again… but this time for breakfast) – This is character dining at Animal Kingdom. We have done lunch here twice So we are looking forward to their breakfast menu.
- Akershus Royal Banquet – this is a Disney princess dining experience at Epcot. This uses one dining credit whereas the one at Magic Kingdom uses 2 credits. Even though I have sons.. I will say that the princess meet and greets go over extremely well for boys. They enjoy the princesses because they can talk with the kids… and i promise… you will get a kick out of seeing your boy talk to the pretty princesses. It’s worth it. Maddux just eats up all that attention.
- Teppan Edo – Japanese restaurant at Epcot where we can sit and watch the chefs prepare our food. I am the most excited about this one. The reviews on this place are always good.. can’t wait!
The food at Disney is such a fun piece of the whole vacation. I really believe you are missing out on some Disney Magic when you leave the property to eat… The few places where the food wasn’t all that great… was geared toward kids. So if Maddux were to do this review… those places that weren’t my favorites would be his… Character dining is such a great alternative to standing in those lines to meet the characters. Each Character takes time with your child and makes the meal magical. And honestly… on a family vacation when your kids are happy… you are happy. It’s just the way it works.
If you are ever planning a Disney trip coming up and had any questions… I would love to share with you our personal experience. However, I would always recommend doing some research beforehand. There is a ton of helpful websites on doing Disney with kids of all ages! :)
As you can see I havent had too many bad experiences.. and if we had one I would tell you (and I did… Coral reef) however, that could have been a fluke that night and you could go and have a wonderful experience. Disney Dining is fantastic. and even if you do not do the dining plan I would recommend trying at least one unique restaurant while you are there.
Do you have any Disney Dining recommendations? I would love to hear it!